In his blog at the Guardian Unlimited, Jonathan Jones reports that Tony Blair’s official portrait, painted by Phil Hale, was unveiled last night at the Houses of Parliament “There’s no point in fussing overmuch about the technical qualities of a painting like this. Short of commissioning Lucian Freud, you’re hardly likely to get a masterpiece from a contemporary portrait painter. You could generously compare Hale’s style with that of the Victorian portraitist JE Millais or more rudely see something of the Humbrol modeller in his glossy realism. But this is a decent political portrait and its quality surely owes as much to the skill of the subject in putting an image across as to any great insight by the artist. The similarly introspective qualities of a recent portrait of Blair by Jonathan Yeo – for that one he wore a poppy – struck me as Blair’s doing. This painting confirms that Blair is using art to try and shape his historical image.” Read more.
I think it’s gonna take much more than art for Blair to regain some of his luster. Getting on his knees and begging for forgiveness from the parents of the young men he sent to die in Iraq would be a good start.